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Honours Projects


Supervisor Dr Brian Oliver

What is special about COPD?


When most people have a rhinovirus infection they   experience symptoms of the common cold.    However, when people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)  have a rhinovirus infection they often have a life threatening exacerbation.  The reason why this occurs is not known.

This project will establish if the innate (anti-viral) immune response to rhinovirus is: 1) intrinsically different in lung cells from people with COPD, and 2) impaired by current therapeutic regimens.     

TECHNIQUES: Cell   culture, virus assays, qPCR, Western blotting, ELISA


Do epigenetic changes occur in COPD?


Chronic   obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a major global cause of ill-health   and mortality which is increasing in prevalence worldwide and constitutes a   huge socioeconomic burden.   Whilst the   aetiology of COPD is multifactorial, the main risk factor in western   societies is cigarette smoking.     However why some smokers develop COPD and others do not is not   known. 

This   project will investigate if epigenetic changes are involved in the   development of COPD, and how cells from people with COPD respond to therapeutics in-vitro.


TECHNIQUES: Cell   Culture, ELISA, Molecular Biology


Does rhinovirus reduce   the efficacy of asthma medications?


During   virus-induced asthma exacerbations bronchodilators such as β2-agonists   become ineffective.  In our previous   studies we have found that the infected bronchial epithelium drives this   phenomenon, for example it promotes desensitisation of the β2-adrenoceptor   on airway smooth muscle cells. 


In   our recent studies, in collaboration with A/Profs Traini and Young we have   begun to investigate how the transport of bronchodilators across the   epithelial is affected by rhinovirus infection. In this study you would   assess how the transport of β2-agonists across epithelial cell   layers is affected by rhinovirus infection.